Recent Media

Nicotin gây nghiện nhưng không phải nguyên nhân gây ung thư

Các chuyên gia cho rằng đã đến lúc chấm dứt tấn công vào nicotin mà thay vào đó cuộc chiến chống tác hại thuốc lá cần xác định rõ đâu mới là nguyên nhân gây ra các bệnh lý liên quan đến hút thuốc lá điếu.

Nghiện thuốc lá, không chỉ do nicotin

Năm 2011, một nghiên cứu trên chuột của Murphy và Maier đã gây bất ngờ cho giới khoa học, khi chứng minh rằng nicotin không phải là nguyên nhân gây ung thư như trước giờ mọi người vẫn lầm tưởng. Nghiên cứu cho thấy những chỉ số về đặc tính sinh ung thư ví dụ như số lượng u phổi ở những con chuột được sử dụng nicotin so với những con chuột trong nhóm còn lại không đem lại sự khác biệt có ý nghĩa thống kê.

Không ít người vẫn chưa biết nicotin cũng có trong cà chua, khoai tây, ớt đỏ, cà tím với hàm lượng rất nhỏ. Các nghiên cứu khoa học cho thấy nếu ăn 10 kg cà tím, lượng nicotin hấp thụ sẽ tương đương 1 điếu thuốc lá. Tuy nhiên do nicotin gắn liền với thuốc lá, nên phần lớn người ta vẫn “kết tội” nicotin là nguyên nhân gây ra các bệnh liên quan đến thuốc lá. Theo nghiên cứu của Viện Y tế và Chăm sóc Sức khoẻ Quốc gia Anh Quốc, các độc tố và chất gây ung thư trong khói thuốc lá mới là nguyên nhân chính gây ra bệnh tật và tử vong, không phải là do nicotin.

Read the full article here

The Shady Side of Student Loan Forgiveness

As the collective student loan debt in the U.S. surpasses $1.7 trillion, President Joe  Biden’s administration is gearing up to provide over $11.5 billion in student loan relief for nearly 600,000 borrowers. In addition to the fiscal nightmare this will pass onto taxpayers, it has also created a predatory market that thrives on selling student data and information.

Student loan debt has been accumulating at an alarming rate, increasing by more than 100 percent in the last decade alone. Perhaps more alarming is that of the 43.2 million student borrowers in debt within the United States, each owes an average of $39,351. Currently, there are some student loan forgiveness programs through the federal government for specific circumstances, such as for public employees or doctors who work in rural areas. But one loan forgiveness program in particular is becoming increasingly problematic: Borrower to Defense Repayment (BDR).

BDR loan forgiveness operates on the basis that a college defrauded a student by failing them on the educational services provided. While there are surely legitimate claims through BDR, there are also alarming loopholes within the rules that allow for massive amounts of student debt to be unjustifiably forgiven at the taxpayers’ expense. As noted in a study from the University of Chicago, student debt forgiveness favors the top 20 percent of earners, meaning it is more of an expensive bailout for educated and generally well-off individuals at the expense of all taxpayers, many of whom did not even go to college. Interestingly, those who rack up large amounts of student debt typically come from more affluent families and run up their tab by attending out-of-state private schools, while those from lower-income backgrounds are more likely to make cost-saving decisions and reduce the amount of debt they take on. If the loopholes within BDR loan forgiveness persist, then taxpayers could be on the hook to pay for the billions of dollars worth of loans forgiven.

What’s perhaps even more alarming is just how these BDR claims are coming to fruition. Recently, a handful of companies have popped up with information or offers to assist those looking for help with the loan forgiveness process. Although these services seem well-intentioned, their goals are actually quite nefarious. They specificallymarket to students to collect their data to sell to trial attorneys as leads for potential lawsuit claims, all unbeknownst to the student. As one might suspect, this has turned many trial attorneys’ dreams into reality, as more frivolous class action lawsuits are being filed against colleges thanks to these predatory recruiting ads. This is effectively opening up every private educational institution to massive claims or losses.

While calls for student loan forgiveness continue, it is important to look at what is specifically driving this debt to skyrocket. One key factor driving student loan debt is federally-backed student loans. Research shows that for every dollar of federal aid, institutional grant aid is reduced by $0.83, meaning the intended reduction of costs from federal aid is offset significantly by reductions in institutional aid and leads to students increasing their loan amount since they are not actually benefiting from more affordable tuition. In addition to federally-backed student loans, overly bloated administrative costs are also driving up tuition prices. Administrative costs cover non-instructional staff who are not directly contributing to educating students within the classroom. Although administrative staff is shown to have very little impact on graduation rates, administrative costs managed to increase by 61.2 percent from 1993 to 2007. Today, the cost of tuition is up 361 percent since 1963 (inflation-adjusted), and the average student attending a 4 year-public college will need $26,615 for the academic year when factoring in the price of tuition, room and board, books, and other necessities.

With the price of a college education being so expensive, it is understandable how collective student loan debt within the United States got to the amount it is at today. However, there are better solutions to address this debt than pushing the financial burden into taxpayers through loan forgiveness schemes. Instead, policymakers should address the rapidly rising costs of attending college and close the glaring loopholes within Borrower to Defense Repayment. Not only would this save billions of dollars and actually make college more affordable, but it would also minimize the opportunity for predatory companies to take advantage of vulnerable students by invading their privacy and selling their information to tort lawyers.

Originally published here

Should dealcoholized beer be taxed the same as regular beer?

Beer is one of those products that gets heavily taxed however should that mean the tax should be equal between alcoholic and dealcoholized beer?

Listen to the interview here

Electrifying Alabama: ‘They want to be the forefront, let’s make it the forefront’

Earlier this week, Gov. Kay Ivey launched “Drive Electric Alabama,” a public awareness campaign promoting electric vehicle sales and “showing the nation, once again, Alabama is a driving force in the automotive industry,” the governor stated.

However, a June Consumer Choice Center report ranks Alabama among the worst states to purchase an electric vehicle, while Bumper, an online search tool for vehicle history reports, ranks Alabama 49th for ease of owning one.

Alexander City resident Carl Kovach, a five-year Tesla owner, calls it “ridiculous.”

“They’re saying they want to be the forefront; let’s make it the forefront,” Kovach said of his state government. “Let’s do what we need to do to ensure that their citizens are able to get a vehicle and know that they have the availability and the servicing and the fuel and everything else they need.”

Read the full article here

Economías colaborativas: Buenos Aires quedó 9° en un ranking de 44 ciudades de América Latina

El estudio evalúa la disponibilidad de una serie de servicios de movilidad, transporte, alojamiento y actividad física a través de plataformas digitales que conectan a consumidores y prestadores.

En los últimos años, la tecnología ha presentado un sinfín de nuevas alternativas en productos y servicios que han permitido a las personas elegir y modificar sus hábitos de consumo, de acuerdo a sus necesidades diarias. La pandemia del Coronavirus produjo el desembarco de más herramientas, pero fundamentalmente ha acelerado procesos de adopción por parte de los consumidores.

De acuerdo a relevamientos realizados por PwC relacionados a diferentes estudios y encuestas sobre la temática a nivel global, el valor de la industria de la economía colaborativa llegaría a los u$s335.000 millones para 2025, compartiendo un 50% del mercado con el modelo tradicional.La investigación establece que los consumidores consideran que esta nueva manera de hacer negocios ayuda a reducir los costos de consumos diarios, implica mayor eficiencia, reduce la contaminación, genera mayor comodidad a la hora de comprar y construye una comunidad más fuerte, que basa su éxito en la confianza entre oferentes y demandantes.

Buenos Aires quedó ubicada en el noveno puesto del Índice de Economía Colaborativa Latam 2021, un relevamiento que analiza 44 ciudades de Latinoamérica y evalúa la disponibilidad de una serie de servicios de movilidad, transporte, alojamiento y actividad física a través de plataformas digitales que conectan a consumidores y prestadores. El estudio, realizado en conjunto por la red Somos Innovación, Relial y el Consumer Choice Center, también tiene en cuenta la accesibilidad que presentan dichas plataformas, en términos de requisitos, para quienes buscan ofrecer o consumir servicios a través de ellas.

Read the full article here

Reckoning with insurance for better patient choice in healthcare

A new Senate bill seeks to take the hassle of dealing with healthcare companies away from patients and into the hands of insurance companies. Although it falls short of the mark, this bill is a step in the right direction toward sensible healthcare reform in Pennsylvania.

Regardless of your job, your income, or where you live, we’ve all had at least one nightmare scenario when it comes to health insurance.

There are forms, claims, reimbursement requests, schedules, and negotiations. Doctors, dentists, and health practitioners understand the burden, and often have to face their own bureaucratic tests of will before focusing on their patients. The growth of healthcare administration costs emphasizes this. And that’s for people with private plans.

The price inflation that comes with the amping up of health insurance plans in our entire system — not to mention the role of government subsidies — is a well-known phenomenon. Insurance becomes involved in every rudimentary doctor visit or procedure, leading to bad incentives for health providers, employers, and insurance companies. This process involves a middleman in what should essentially be a simple medical contract between patient and practitioner. 

The answer, however, is not in abandoning free exchange in healthcare, as Medicare For All proponents would have us believe, but rather it is in reckoning with insurance to make our system more competitive and fair.

In Pennsylvania, one particular bill is addressing the process of making insurance more accountable and lowering patient costs and headaches.

This session, State Sen. Judy Ward has introduced SB850 that would enact assignment of benefits reform, compelling insurance companies to follow a patient’s wish to directly pay healthcare providers rather than leaving them with the paperwork and negotiation. This would simplify life for patients by requiring insurers to pay providers directly.

One would think this is standard practice, but especially for dental insurance, there are additional steps and vetting that often leave patients responsible for paying their dentists only after the insurance company has paid out the claim.

Though only a small reform, and leagues from where we need to be to have a truly free market in healthcare decoupled from our employers, this bill would make the entire process simpler and better empower patients and consumers.

Since the Affordable Care Act and large Medicare reforms at the federal level, assignment of benefits is recognized in most medical insurance markets, but not yet for dental patients.

These reforms are complicated by the often cumbersome terms of dental insurance contracts: only portions of care or procedures can be covered by insurance, there are caps on the amounts one can reimburse in a single year, and dentists must navigate these steps to accurately bill their patients without producing a shocking bill. This balanced billing approach is necessary for any medical professional who wants to stay in business.

The answer, however, is not in abandoning free exchange in healthcare … but rather it is in reckoning with insurance to make our system more competitive and fair. 

But the status quo often makes it more complicated than it otherwise would be.

That is why price transparency remains an important principle for these debates, and why legislators should continue ensuring patients have choice and access to the information they need.

There are dozens of easy reforms state legislatures could follow that would help improve care: fostering innovation, reducing bureaucracy, giving incentives to patients to use direct-to-consumer options, and more.

By continuing to promote competition and transparency, patients and consumers can benefit from better care and lower costs. It is only a small degree of change we need, but it beats the alternative.

Originally published here

Counterpoint | Ontario, We Have a Problem

Tanya is joined by David Clement, North American Affairs Manager at Consumer Choice Centre, and Jay Goldberg, Interim Ontario Director at CTF, for an in-depth discussion on Ontario’s debt problem.

Watch the interview here

Researchers Call for End to ‘War on Nicotine’

A new research paper attempts to clarify the confusion surrounding nicotine consumption and the role it plays in the diseases caused by smoking. The paper, released by the Consumer Choice Center, outlines six main reasons why the “war on nicotine is pointless” and should end.

“Instead of celebrating declining numbers of smokers and far fewer deaths, many governments, public health agencies and anti-smoking activists have been on the hunt for new enemies,” the researchers wrote. “They decided to scapegoat nicotine, and as a result, the fight against smoking gradually transformed into a fight against nicotine. Such an approach has dire consequences: fewer people switching to less harmful alternatives.”

Read the full article here

The U.S. Shouldn’t Follow The EU’s Green Agriculture Lead

To tackle climate change, the European Union has decided to go all organic. Europe’s green agriculture — outlined in the Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy — seeks to reduce the use of pesticides by 50% percent. That looks very climate-friendly and revolutionary on paper. In reality, the F2F is extremely costly and will not help save the planet.

The U.S. should see the EU’s F2F as a lesson in how not to approach agriculture in the 21st century.

Pesticides are a critical tool for fighting pests and diseases that can decimate crops. They fall into the following categories: herbicides, which protect from the 30,000 weed species that deprive crops of space, water, sunlight, and soil nutrients; insecticides, which defend against 10,000 plant-eating species; and fungicides, which are used to prevent 50,000 plant diseases, such as mycotoxin contamination.

Limiting the use of pesticides will limit farmers’ ability to maximize food production, which will drive down food supply and drive up food prices. According to a recent study conducted by Dutch scientists, production will decline by 10 to 20%, or in some cases 30%.

Furthermore, the EU will attempt to impose this agenda on the rest of the world. Should that happen, about 185 million people will become food-insecure.

On top of that, organic agriculture is hardly climate-friendly. To name one example, a 2018 international Swedish study published in the journal Nature found that organic peas, farmed in Sweden, have around a 50% larger climate impact than conventionally farmed peas.

So far, the United States has been opposing the Farm to Fork strategy, calling it “protectionist.” However, with the recent launch of an EU-U.S. transatlantic platform on agriculture, it is unclear which approach will succeed in shaping the discourse. It is crucial that the U.S. doesn’t follow the EU’s flawed green lead.

Originally published here

Europe Should Not Be the Role Model for American Agriculture

American agriculture is an asset too precious for lawmakers to succumb to the pressure of people who would rather see the industry disappear than use the benefits of modern agricultural technology. 

A new bill supported by environmental organizations and co-sponsored by progressive lawmakers Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) would copy food rules in Europe and paste them in the United States. This bill disregards the American context and the way previous agriculture regulations were decided on and would downgrade the status of the United States from an agricultural powerhouse, which would be devastating to a state like California.

The bill is called the Protect America’s Children from Toxic Pesticides Act (PACTPA), and it would completely retool how America approves and licenses the use of pesticides and import a “precautionary” approach that has so far stunted innovative agriculture in Europe.

In 2019, activists sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the insecticide sulfoxaflor that helps farmers protect their crops from insects. The activist groups claimed that the substance harms pollinators, despite recent evidence showing the contrary. When used correctly, the chemical yields no major impact on honeybees, which is why the EPA has demanded that the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reconsider its existing restrictions.

These activists belong to the same environmental groups that sought to ban pesticides like the neonic class of pesticides they blamed for the “bee-pocalypse.” Sulfoxaflor was once lauded as an alternative to neonic insecticides, but it now faces similar criticism.

In 2015, the Washington Post published “Call off the bee-pocalypse: U.S. honeybee colonies hit a 20-year high,” an article highlighting the fact that bee populations are on the rise. And USDA numbers confirm that there is no worrying trend related to honeybees. Yet, the notion that chemical pesticides harm bees is so ingrained because it has been consistently repeated to further the goals of environmental activists. These activists aim, not to reduce pesticides by fifty percent by 2030—a goal the European Union is aiming to hit, but to achieve one hundred percent organic agriculture as soon as possible. 

The fact that consumers, when presented with the choice between organic and conventional agriculture, choose the latter and not the former, plays no important role in the views of these activists. There is no attempt to inform consumers about the facts of organic food—that it is not healthier or more nutritious than conventional food, that they do indeed use a wide array of pesticides, or that an all-organic shift would increase greenhouse-gas emissions by up to seventy percent.

Premiums on organic food products are upwards of one hundred percent, and environmental groups work closely with organic lobby groups to push for a mandated increase in organic food production. This push will only cause grocery bills to rise.

While some farmers might benefit from a shift to organic food, many others won’t. In Europe, farming representatives have criticized the push to increase organic food production from the current eight percent to twenty-five percent by 2030 because it can lead to a significant market imbalance. If consumers are presented with twenty-five percent organic but continue buying based on their existing preferences, then what happens to the excess seventeen percent? Will the government compensate farmers if prices drop because of deficient demand?

A European model of agriculture in which farmers are significantly more subsidized than their American counterparts might be appealing to some stateside farmers, but is that really the future of agriculture that Americans want? Do Americans want a model in which farmers are forever dependent on the federal government as opposed to a market economy where the relationship is between consumers and farmers?

U.S. secretary of agriculture Tom Vilsack explained to the European Parliament in a virtual appearance that the differences in how Europe and the United States treat crop protection and genetic engineering are an obstacle to the two blocs trading. But civil society and legislative pressures are building, and they must be resisted.

American agriculture is an asset too precious for lawmakers to succumb to the pressure of people who would rather see the industry disappear than use the benefits of modern agricultural technology.

Of course, improvements can still be made. According to USDA, the number of pesticides used in the United States has been reduced by forty percent since 1960 and pesticide persistence has been cut in half. Innovative technologies such as smart sprayers help farmers use crop protection tools more efficiently to the benefit of their own balance sheets. Empowering farmers to innovate and consumers to be informed about farming realities and the food on their tables should be the goals for which we strive.

Originally published here

Scroll to top